A number of recent high profile cases has resulted in the issue of workplace dress codes being addressed by the Government.
The Government Equalities Office has published new non-statutory guidance for employers, who set dress codes, and employees and job applicants, who may have to abide by them: Dress Codes
A workplace dress code is a set of standards that employers develop about what is appropriate for employees to wear to work.
Dress codes can be a legitimate part of an employer’s terms and conditions of employment.
Dress policies for men and women do not have to be identical, but standards imposed should be equivalent. Dress codes must not be a source of harassment by colleagues or customers, for example women being expected to dress in a provocative manner.
It is best to avoid gender specific prescriptive requirements, for example the requirement to wear high heels. Any requirement to wear make-up, skirts, have manicured nails, certain hairstyles or specific types of hosiery is likely to be unlawful.
Consulting employees and trade unions over any proposed dress code or changes to an existing code will help ensure that the code is acceptable to both the organisation and its staff.
This guidance is helpful to employers to assist them in the preparation of their policies relating to dress and presentation. Employers should not be afraid to use these policies as they are essential tools to ensure that employees comply with their organisation’s values and ethos and project the organisation’s outlook to their clients and customers. For any further information in relation to this, or to discuss your own workplace guidance, please contact us.